Mike Rutherford has much to smile about right now, and his upcoming album Let Me Fly distills everything that’s right about Mike + The Mechanics: the songwriting, the life-affirming uplift and the undercurrent of quirk. The album is out April 4 via BMG.
Let Me Fly overflows with the sense of joy that has defined the band’s entire existence and, as ever, there’s a host of characters, not all of them upstanding citizens, such as the hapless philanderer of “Don’t Know What Came Over Me,” the first single to be taken from the album – now available for download and streaming.
Explains chief Mechanic, Mike Rutherford: “Here’s this guy who’s happily married, loves his lady and everything’s wonderful. Then, one night, he goes AWOL and loses everything by having a one night-stand. It was a moment of madness and he’s beyond remorseful. Was he forgiven? The song just leaves him hanging. And no, it’s not autobiographical!”
2017 sees Mike + The Mechanics toast 32 years in business, and alongside their eighth album and major UK tour, they will be special guests this summer at Phil Collins’ massive June Hyde Park gig as part of the British Summer Time Festival.
Let Me Fly began to take off as the band toured 2011’s The Road, the first album featuring the current line-up: Rutherford himself (guitar/bass), Luke Juby (keyboards), Gary Wallis (drums), Anthony Drennan (guitar), plus vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar.
“The Mechanics hadn’t played live much, so we started to do what I’d done 40 years ago and build a name. We did Euro festivals, UK tours and small places and, yes, I really did wonder at my age if it was OK to be at Portsmouth Guildhall, but we got to be a great live band. The chemistry works because we’re all very different people, who’re fun and quirky – if there were any personality problems I couldn’t deal with that, I really couldn’t. We needed new songs though.”
Mike’s friend Brian Rawling, producer of David Bowie, Tina Turner, Cher’s “Believe” and the Mike + The Mechanics’ hit “Now That You’ve Gone” played the role of Let Me Fly’s sounding board. Rawling introduced Mike to former Johnny Hates Jazz singer Clark Datchler and, in December 2015 a new songwriting partnership was born.
“We sat down together and from day one it worked. Clark’s a proper writer and he brought something new. I’d send him lines and he’d bring them to life. We never had a slow day.”
Along the way, Mike also collaborated with old friend Fraser T. Smith (Kano, Kaiser Chiefs, Adele, Sam Smith) and Ed Drewett (One Direction, Professor Green), while both Mechanics singers collaborated too. Big studios were out. Instead, Mike and one of the singers would make a demo which would be passed around for the others to embellish and layer by layer, the songs evolved into something special. “You don’t go into studios any more: doing it this way feels like you’re working on the good bits all the time, but the songs really have to deliver.”
The results pleased even the chief Mechanic himself. “The Road didn’t move anyone’s world as we made it just after we’d met. We’ve learned to play together now. For me, it’s about proving I can write a good song, but the older you get, the less you let yourself off with ’it’s not bad’, the less you pretend and the tougher you are on yourself. The hardest part of the whole process is staying relevant, but anyone who says success doesn’t matter is a liar: what you really want is people to like it. Then you feel it’s all been worth it. It’s as simple as that. Oh and my wife loves it, more than she’s loved an album of mine for a while! Trust me, that’s a really good sign.”
02/27 Victoria Hall, Hanley
02/28 G Live, Guildford
03/01 Colston Hall, Bristol
03/03 Pavilions, Plymouth
03/04 St David’s Hall, Cardiff
03/05 New Theatre, Oxford
03/07 Hexagon, Reading
03/08 Corn Exchange, Cambridge
03/09 Regent Theatre, Ipswich
03/11 Cliffs Pavillion, Southend
03/13 Dome, Brighton
03/15 Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
03/17 Concert Hall, Perth
03/18 His Majesty’s , Aberdeen
03/19 Festival Hall, Edinburgh
03/21 Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
03/22 City Hall, Sheffield
03/24 Pavilion, Bournemouth
03/25 Guildhall, Portsmouth
03/26 Royal Albert Hall, London
03/28 City Hall, Salisbury
01. Let Me Fly
02. Are You Ready
04. The Best Is Yet To Come
05. Save The World
06. High Life
07. Don’t Know What Came Over Me **
08. The Letter
09. Not Out Of Love
10. Love Left Over
11. I’ll Be There For You
12. Save My Soul
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.